Recap / The X Files S 02 E 20 Humbug


  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: The Conundrum will eat anything: "Live animals, dead animals, rocks, lightbulbs, corkscrews, battery cables, cranberries... "
  • Brick Joke: The Conundrum will eat anything.
  • Cannot Keep a Secret: Fortunately for her, Mulder just blurts out that they found out that Sheriff Hamilton used to be Jim-Jim the Dog-Faced Boy.
  • Cast the Expert: Many of the extras were circus performers, underscoring how despite the physical... oddities... they were still normal people at everyday jobs.
  • Circus Episode: Mulder and Scully investigate a series of disappearances in a small town that relies economically on the circus industry. Just about everyone they meet is a circus performer of some kind - even the local sheriff is a former "dog-boy".
  • Conjoined Twins
  • Crowning Moment of Funny: the first X-Files episode to intentionally go out of its way to be comedic. Although it still contains its' fair share of scares and insight.
  • Digging Yourself Deeper: Scully, trying to explain.
  • Dumb Muscle: Lenny. He also has a case of Simpleton Voice. Though this is mostly due to his heavy drinking.
  • The Fun in Funeral: Glazebrook's funeral is so whacky that Mulder jokes that he can't wait for the wake.
  • Hall of Mirrors: Scully chases Leonard in the hall of mirrors at the funhouse. She fires at him but ends up breaking the mirror that reflected him. She walks down a hallway and bumps into a mirror. And then into Mulder so they decide to catch him outside.
  • Hey, It's That Guy!: Mr. Vargas is Lanny.
  • Humans Are Special: A subtle aesop, using circus performers to highlight that in the end people are still people.
  • I Can Explain: "What are you doing?" "We're exhuming your... potato."
  • Red Herring: Sheriff used to be Jim-Jim the Dog-Faced Boy. The revelation that he used to be a circus performer appears to be very significant, but when Scully and Mulder talk to him about it, he's nonplussed and simply speaks about his past in a matter-of-fact manner. He even somewhat lampshades the trope:
    Sheriff: The investigation isn't going too well, is it?
  • Side Boob: When Lenny comes to wake Scully telling her another body had been found, the audience sees Lenny's gaze spotting her partially undressed underneath her robe. At the same time, Scully is looking down Lenny's robe to see his conjoined twin. They both realize what they're doing and immediately wrap their robes up tighter.
  • Sherlock Scan: Spoofed. The local motel is run by a little person and Mulder, rather innocuously, asks if he's done any circus work, as the whole town consists of circus performers. The clerk is naturally offended by this and attempts to make a point about stereotyping by performing a scan on Mulder. Unfortunately, he stereotypes Mulder as an FBI agent.
  • The Un-Reveal: Did Gillian Anderson really eat that cricket or not?
  • Wham Line: the last line of the episode, no less.